Let’s look at quotes from church history about justification. One of these quotes is remarkably different. Can you figure out which one that is?
“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.””
Romans 4:2–3, St. Paul
“And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
St. Clement, bishop of Rome, c. 90 AD
“A person is saved by grace, not by works but by faith. There should be no doubt but that faith saves and then lives by doing its own works, so that the works which are added to salvation by faith are not those of the law but a different kind of thing altogether.” St. Didymus the Blind, c. 313 – 398 AD
CANON 9: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema (condemned).”
Council of Trent, 1545-1563
As you can tell the quote that is wildly different was from the Catholic Council of Trent.
Following St. Paul, many church fathers saw and understood that one could not be seen as righteous before God through one’s own strivings. As St. Chrysostom says elsewhere about how works can’t be included in our declaration of righteousness “for then they would have to be perfect, which is impossible”.
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